In this two-part series Ian Walsh will delve into Irish football, to see the benefits of part-time or full-time football, and will try to answer the questions associated with it.
Financial difficulties is a word that has become associated with most League of Ireland clubs this season, but the big question for many is whether to stay part-time or go full-time.
According to Bohemians manager Pat Fenlon – ‘Bohs will remain a full-time club.’ This is even though the club is €3million in debt, and have had a transfer embargo slapped on them by the FAI since July, for breaching the 65% wage cap imposed on all League of Ireland clubs.
They might be the only club in the league afforded the luxury of being a full-time as the credit crunch has already hit other league clubs hard.
While the Gypsies have been unable to strengthen their side since the summer, they have a group of talented youngsters which have already won the EA Sports Cup this season, beating Waterford United 3-1 last weekend. For the moment, despite being in financial turmoil they look set to be taking part in a European competition next season, be it the Champions League or Europa League.
There is also the incentive of retaining their League title, which would land them €500,000-plus, but that certainly looks unlikely after Fridays 1-0 defeat to challengers Shamrock Rovers who now regain the lead at the top of the league, two points ahead of Bohs with six games remaining.
Shamrock Rovers are certainly a club back from the brink, having being relegated to the first division, six years ago due to debts. Now, they are boasting a turnover of €1.3million, which the club hopes to increase by 10% next year.
With the league title within their grasp, and all the glory that goes with it, that looks more than possible. Rovers are believed to be spending just 50% of their turnover on wages, which is well below the cap of 65%.
If they can now go on to win the League of Ireland title and establish themselves at the top of Irish football, they will be the success story of the year. It will also be their first League title since 1994, and their 16th in the clubs history.
The Hoops are now unbeaten in 20games (14wins and 6 draws) and are 8-11 to win the League of Ireland title.
In Part 2 I will look at the rising and falling attendances in Ireland, the relegation strugglers, and clubs who are already in crisis in the League of Ireland.